There will soon be no iSites in the Kaipara region to promote tourism - however a university student with a passion for local politics hopes her petition might change that.
The Kaipara District Council (KDC) is the only council in Northland that doesn't fund any visitor information centres (iSites).
Taiawhio Wati is a local resident, studying social policy at Massey University and one of her third year papers is about civic engagement.
"We are free to pick our own topic, so I thought this would be an ideal issue seeing as how it's relevent to me and the decision not to have one, makes no sense whatsoever."
Wati says the reluctance of the KDC to allocate funding for the promotion of tourism in the area is, "really sad as there are so many wonderful attractions in the Kaipara".
"From its rich pre-colonial history to its current status as the kumara capital, this area has so many gems to explore and discover. Not to mention the economic development that can be provided by investing in local tourism. "
Wati says that in her research she has found that the Local Government Act currently lacks clarity around what councils must do in relation to funding tourism.
"It seems like tourism isn't even in the Local Government Act (LGA) and that's why KDC gets to throw their arms up in the air and say it's not their problem.
"However, I think the issue has gone away from being a statutory obligation to more of a, are you listening to what your people want. "
So she decided to create a petition in the hopes that the council will listen to what the community are saying and wanting.
She says she hopes to meet with local Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis who also happens to be the Minister of Tourism to discuss the need for written provision in the LGA that explicity states the need for councils to fund iSites or tourism in the event that a district has nothing.
Davis has previously stated that funding for an iSite should be provided by local council not central government, not Tourism New Zealand or the Provincial Growth Fund.
Davis has previously stated that funding for an iSite should be provided by local council not central government.
The Auditor-General's Office has confirmed to the Northern Advocate that there is no legal obligation for councils to fund iSites.
"Funding i-Sites and tourism is a policy decision for councils to make, and our mandate doesn't extend to the merits of policy decisions," said communications adviser to the Officer of the Auditor General Mike Heine.
Wati posted the online petition to Change.org and within a few hours of advertising the post on social media it had garnered close to 100 signatures at edition time.
"I was wowed by how quickly it grew, within an hour it already had 50 signatures and the feedback has been overwhelming in terms of support and positive feedback."
Anaru Kaipo signed the petition, he said that it seemed a bit backwards when one of the strongest growing industries in the North and has been for many years is tourism.
Olaf Raasch said tourism has overtaken Dairy as New Zealand's biggest earner, "crazy to not tap into it".
Elaine Blitvic said it was shocking that the region would soon have no iSite, "please sign the petition".
A Kaipara district council spokesman said that the council hasn't been in the information centre business for many years now, due to financial constraints.
"For the same reason, the current Long Term Plan of KDC (2018–2028) does not include budgets for visitor information, promotions or visitor industry development."
The last remaining iSite in Dargaville, The Visitor and Information Centre Dargaville and Kauri Coast, has been privately run and self funded by Sue Taylor for the last nine years, she has decided to retire and had offered her site and all it's resources to council to lease, but the offer was turned down.
Taylor has decided not to offer the site to council again and has other plans for the building.
Tomarata Bridge to be repaired
Mangawhai'sTomarata Bridge repair work to get under way.
At a recent council meeting a contractor was appointed to repair and remediate the the bridge on Insley St in Mangawhai.
A council spokesman says the $2.3m contract has been awarded to Freyssinet NZ Ltd.
Freyssinet is reportedly a leading provider of specialist property and infrastructure post-tensioning, civil engineering, remediation and upgrades.
"Work will start on the bridge in mid-August, with the works to be completed by Christmas 2019, to minimise disturbance to peak summer traffic.
The bridge will remain under restricted single lane closure throughout the duration of the contracted repair (i.e. the current traffic management plan), however we'll proactively communicate to the public and affected parties any changes to the projected work plans and timetables."
Across the duration of the repair there may be instances when the bridge will be closed completely, however, we will work to minimise this disruption, and notify residents well in advance.
General manager infrastructure for Kaipara District Council, Jim Sephton said, "the repairs needed are to remedy the damages caused by salt water.
"As the bridge crosses the Mangawhai estuary it is constantly exposed to a marine environment, which over time has caused severe corrosion and concrete spalling to the bridges bearers and beams. This work will address those concerns, and prepare the bridge for future and continued use. I thank those who've been patient under the circumstances so far, and look forward to work getting under way."